Thoughtfully Learning

Thoughts turn into words turn into actions.

A very wise friend shared this idea with my wife recently who then shared it with me. It has been a constant in my head ever since and it is making me a better father.

We inject our energy into everything we do. That energy starts as intention and becomes reality.

Our thoughts become our reality.

I think we all sometimes forget how truly powerful we are. I think we forget that we have an immense amount of control over each moment of our lives. I think we forget that the ending to the story is often determined before the paint on the beginning has begun to dry. I think we forget that our expectations, attitude and approach shape us and, in turn, everything we touch.

Well, I know I do.

I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old which means that leaving the house involves a smidge more than grabbing the keys and patting the dog. There are snacks and jackets and water bottles and books and backpacks and toys. There are lists to compile and plans to formulate. There are pre-emptive potty attempts and break-out strategy sessions. There are departing times to be considered, return times to be met and needs versus wants to be weighed. There is a lot of shit going on.

That is, if I choose to think of it that way.

If I think of leaving the house as if it is overwhelming then I am the one making it so. There are, of course, things that need to be accomplished to make sure that we are prepared, but we’re not trying to unite the Koreas here – we’re leaving the house. It’s just not that big of a deal. But, if I start thinking of it as a monumental undertaking, then I will speak of it to my girls in those terms. Before long, leaving the house becomes a big deal, because I have made it a big deal.

Thoughts turn into words turn into actions.

If I maintain a calm perspective and an undisturbed pace, then that attitude will bleed into my speech which will then guide my actions, as well as the actions of those little beings who are taking all of their cues from me. The value I have found in this idea, though, doesn’t just apply to daily moments but also to the bigger picture.

When my wife asked me recently how my day went I answered something to the effect that it was as good as could be expected considering the difficult stages our daughters are in. As I said, they are 2 and 4 years old. She said to me “Yeah, but what about how great they are?”

Cue the epiphany music (preferably a slow piano solo a la the end of pretty much every John Hughes movie from the ‘80s).

Life as a stay at home dad with a 2 year old and a 4 year old is not always simple. It, like those times trying to get out of the house, can be overwhelming. It can also be the most astonishing gift that life has to bestow, if I choose to see it that way. My daughters themselves can be little balls of devastation or they can be walking miracles, if I choose to see them that way.

It’s all in how I think about it.

By defining their phases negatively I was doing my daughters – and myself – a disservice. I wasn’t always thinking of them as two people who were discovering themselves and their world; I was categorizing their stages as something to be endured rather than something to be celebrated. It was a defense mechanism, I’m sure, that I used to help me through what can a pretty challenging time if I allow it to be. But that is not acceptable. And it’s not fair. But it is correctable.

It’s all in how I think about it.

As my thoughts reflected a narrow view of where they were as people, my speech certainly followed. I spoke of their “difficult stages” to my wife and I’m sure my daughters received that message as well, even if it wasn’t explicitly stated to them. My actions, then, must also have reflected that negative view as they are a product of my speech. What must that have communicated to my girls? How, then, must they have thought of themselves as a result, with their own thoughts leading ultimately to actions? I was starting a cycle that could only go in a negative direction.

Thoughts turn into words turn into actions.

My wife was right. The stages that they are in are inspiring. I am in the presence of two people learning how to be people. I’m watching life. It isn’t seemless, but it is beautiful. And it is perfect.

I am working hard now at thinking about my thinking. I try to keep my thoughts light and unaffected about the simple things like getting out of the house. I try to keep my thoughts about the big things positive and peaceful when it seems, and sounds, like the walls are crumbling around me. If I can do this then my words will float more gently and my actions will flow more gracefully. If I can do this then I can be a better father and I can help my daughters to be better, happier people.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.


About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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16 Responses to Thoughtfully Learning

  1. Maggie Batt says:

    It is huge getting kids out the door and you should be commended for being Superman. It’s enough to make you want to stay home, isn’t it? I find having things in their expected places helps. Also I keep so much in the car already to go. Even on days when you aren’t feeling your happiest and the negative thoughts creep in. Smile! See your insides smiling one organ at a time. Eventually you’ll feel happy. Get at their level. Literally on the ground, playing with their toys, being as silly as possible. My Logan helps me remember the sillies. I know….make up a getting out the door song sung to a BeeGee’s tune.

    • These are some great tips, Maggie – thanks. I have definitely found some little tricks that help the whole process along like having a bag ready and having beloved time occupiers in the car. I love your thoughts about “seeing your insides smile one organ at a time”. I’m going to try to communicate that one to my girls.

      Funny, too, that you mention getting down to their level. Just this morning there was a bit of drama and we solved it by making a huge blanket fort in the living room. No one can be unhappy inside a blanket fort.

      Thanks again, Maggie. I appreciate you sharing your time with me.

  2. Carol Brown says:

    Your thoughts can lead all of us to better perspectives and attitudes. It is good to be reminded of the power our thoughts have over our daily interactions and routines and challenges. You are amazing as a writer and a dad. I am so proud of you and immensely grateful my granddaughters have such a thoughtful pop.

    From a completely unbiased, objective mom…

  3. Meka says:

    Once again these words and thoughts ring so true. I have the same feelings. Who would have thought that leaving the house could take longer than the trip itself. Not to mention the times you are in the car and out of the driveway only to turn around and go back for that one thing that could make or break the whole outing!

    I told you today about me trying to be present in more moments. I have really been working on this and I have found that when I am overwhelmed( which I have done to myself)I miss so many moments. When I can just go with it I catch the little words, phrases and smiles that are said during the process. Those things made it not seem like a process. It was a moment I will never forget. A moment that made my day instead of broke my spirit. You are so right it’s all in how we approach it and I think our kids are more in tune with our thoughts than we realize. In my flurried moment of overwhelming thoughts and feelings the other day, Kurt stood peacefully still, smiled and said “but it’s all little things”. As much as I hate to admit it… He was right. In the grand scheme of things all that we let consume us sometimes are little things.

    May we all have more mind-blowing moments of smiles and laughter each day! Thanks for the reminder.

    • I CAN NOT tell you how many times I have had to run back inside or turn around after just pulling out of the driveway.

      You’ve got a smart husband there, Meka. Now if we can just remember to focus on the “big things” all of the time, we’ll be all right. Those little details are so shiny and distracting, though.

      Thank you, Meka.

  4. Colby says:

    Wow! What an inspirational and thought-provoking message. Yes, getting out the door is a HUGE undertaking, especially if one is attempting to do it on time for school, doctor, practice, etc. to begin. My new year’s resolution is going to be to try to repeat your opening line to myself, and adjust accordingly. Just ask anyone…I get stressed and frazzled easily when overwhelmed lately.
    Deep breath in, and repeat: “thoughts turn into words turn into actions”. And, exhale.

  5. Great post . Thanks for the many reminders that parenting is a joy and not a chore.

  6. Kevin says:

    I’m a sahd of a four and two year old as well. It is tough sometimes. I too have to slow down and redirect my thoughts to calm myself and the situation down. The kids pick up on my frustration as much as they pick up on my happiness.

    I bought backpacks for each of them. I have the packs preloaded with extra pants, undies, a portable potty seat, snacks, wipes and so on. It makes my life a lot easier. All I have to do to complete the packs is to add a drink to both. Then all I have to do is make sure everyone has sat on the potty and we’re out the door…twenty minutes after I wanted to leave. Hey, that’s an improvement from the 45 minutes it used to take.

    Great post. Love your writing style.

    • I knew there was a good reason we related to each other so well!

      They are such sponges of whatever energy we are giving off. I can always tell just how I am appearing to them at any given moment just by watching them and how they relate back to me. What an incredible education about self this whole adventure is.

      Thanks for reading, Kevin, and thanks for your kind words.

  7. Toni says:

    Hi Mitchell! I really enjoy your blogs, but this one spoke to me. Loud and clear. It reminded me that we have magical abilities that are inherent, inborn, and god-given. I feel one of our life purpose is to help ourselves and our children learn how to harness thoughts into loving positive action. They do what we do. It is a very simple idea, but reminders to get back on track are needed frequently.

    “The All is Mind; The Universe is Mental.” The Kybalion

    • Hey, Ton! Hope Austin is treating you well so far. Hopefully I will be invading your new space before too long.

      I’m glad you have liked them. I have to say I have thought of you many times while writing because of all of the conversations we have had about this whole parenthood madness. I have to say, too, that I couldn’t agree with you more. These abilities are innate, I think, we have just spent so much time being distracted and thundered at by life that we forget what is naturally there. I love what you said about our purpose – hear, hear, my friend.

      Thanks for taking the time to read, Ton. I hope we get to talk soon.

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